He walks into Bryant Park, pushing the state of the art Chicco 3 baby stroller with ease. He grins at the way the wheels spin allowing him to ease his daughter off the pathway and onto the grass with little effort, or jostling of the infant. He tips back the visor so that he can peer down at his daughter, whose bright greens eyes are looking back and forth the park with rapid fascination.
“How you doing there, Lily bear?” Castle calls out softly. Lily looks up at her father’s voice and gurgles in response clapping her hands as she reaches out for him. The little pink flower in her head squishing against her blanket as she tries to twist her body to see her father.
“See, and Mommy said buying this ridiculously expensive stroller was a waste of money.” Castle continues as he pushes the stroller towards a shaded area of trees, “But, you can’t even tell that you’re on the grass can you baby bear? No bumpy roads for you.”
Lily simply gurgles in response as Castle parks the stroller under a tree and begins unpacking the basket in his hand. “I know, Mommy is just silly like that.”
Lily whines at his words, gripping the bar in front of her to pull herself into a sitting position. Castle laughs as her little face turns red in displeasure, “Okay, no saying bad stuff about Mommy.”
Castle starts to lay out the picnic blanket just as Lily begins to whine louder in protest at being confined to her stationary stroller, “Okay Ms. Lily, calm down. Daddy’s just setting up the blankets for you.”
When Lily’s whines turn into loud cries, Castle tosses the three stuffed animals onto the picnic blanket; Kate seemed to have slipped them into the stroller without him realizing; and quickly moves over to his impatient daughter. Lily immediately perks up on seeing her father and stretches her chubby hands towards him, her little nose wrinkling in displeasure.
Castle on noticing the dark pink hoodie on his daughter he frowns, shaking his head in disbelief, “No wonder you’re cranky. Why did Mommy put you in this warm hoodie? It’s almost 80 degrees out and getting warmer by the minute.”
Castle quickly scoops up his daughter as Lily whines in response, rubbing her face with the back of her hand, “I know, lets get this hot hoodie off. Mommy is just being silly, or just paranoid really.”
He places Lily to stand on the blanket, one hand securing her waist as she begins to bounce excitedly. Castle laughs as he tugs the zipper on her hoodie with his free hand, “ Silly Mommy sees one tiny cloud in the sky and she’s gotta dress you for the next Polar Vortex.”
Lily squeals as Castle tosses the hoodie behind her, and fixes the little flower headband. Lily grips his fingers as she bounces in excitement, as Castle opens her arms he pauses on seeing the cursive font on the front of Lily’s onesie, ‘Sorry Ladies, my Daddy is taken!’
Castle throws back his head and laughs, at which Lily immediately begins to laugh copying Castle as she continues to bounce, her tiny hand tightening around Castle’s finger, “Think Mommy is trying to tell me something?”
“Not you, just the gaggle of fangirls that seem to think our daughter is an invitation to chat you up.” A familiar teasing voice calls out.
Both Castle and Lily turn their heads to the familiar voice as Lily starts squealing louder on seeing her mother, as she tries to get out of her father’s grasp despite the fact that she can’t even stand on her own.
Kate laughs at the greeting as she plops next to the pair, scooping up her daughter out of her husband’s arms and peppers kisses on her squealing daughter’s cheek, “Hi ladybug.”
“Parking?” Castle inquires, knowing that Kate had insisted they took her Crown Vic. despite the impracticality of driving in the city.
“35th.” Kate says with a huff, “You were right, taking a cab would have been much easier.”
“You heard that Lily? Mommy said I was right.” Castle tells their daughter seriously almost as though the baby can understand him, “You’re my witness, baby bear.”
Kate rolls her eyes at the nickname as Lily grabs Castle’s nose squeezing it tightly, causing both adults to laugh.
“Oh and my ‘gaggle’ of fangirls know I’m taken.” Castle points out, responding to Kate’s initial comment as he rubs Lily’s round belly, earning giggles in response.
“I know, I just thought it was cute.” Kate says with a grin as she holds up their daughter for him to see, “and it matches with her cute headband.”